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O-Zone: Tom-fooling around

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Samwise from Shire:
I know it's way too early to say something like this, but do YOU think we maybe should not have drafted T.J. Yeldon? Our running game has looked decent and we have three capable backs. Could we have spent that second-round pick on Randy Gregory? I'm not doubting DC or Gus; just wanted to know your personal thoughts on the matter.
John: My personal thought is I think Yeldon's going to be good, so at this time I think the Jaguars should have drafted him. But whatever my thought on Yeldon, I would have had a tough time with picking two pass-rushers back-to-back so early – as would have been the case had the Jaguars selected Gregory after selecting Dante Fowler Jr. I'm not saying I wouldn't have seen the logic considering the importance of the position; it just would have felt like neglecting other key areas. That said, we really won't know much definitive on this topic until we see Yeldon. If he's a special player – and it appears he has that sort of ability – he's obviously worth the second-round selection. If not, that's trickier because you can find functional running backs later in the draft.
Morgan from Jacksonville:
In reference to Tim's question about not using the field-goal unit, you answered with the touchdown run that Blake ran. Do you think if it were a regular-season game they wouldn't have made that decision? It turned out to be a success (shaky, but success). With this new addition of the weapons I would think those decisions would be easier to go for it now than in the past, especially if it puts their offense on the 4-yard line with our defense being better (assuming our d-line is healthy again and the pass rush returns.). Thanks!
John: My answer Wednesday was not meant to imply that the only reason the Jaguars went for it on fourth-and-3 against Pittsburgh was that it was a preseason game. The Jaguars very well may have gone for it in the regular season. That decision would have been based on circumstance, feel and momentum. Me, I wouldn't have gone for it in the regular season because I would have wanted points. Then again, I like Broadway musicals and watching old Asia videos on Youtube, so I might be the wrong guy to ask.
Sean from Fleming Island, FL:
I think the 'Bank will be electric and a place you want to be for the home opener against the Panthers. It has been awhile since I have felt this way about the regular-season opener.
John: #DTWD
Bill from Jacksonville:
John, when people question the lack of pass rush the injury to Dante Fowler Jr. is often cited. Look, I loved the DFJ pick as much as anyone, but he wasn't going to fix a pass rush this poor. Was the plan to fix the lack of pass rush from last year really just DFJ and a year of players getting better within the system? "Please tell me that you have something more, Lieutenant." Thanks! Go Jags!
John: The Jaguars had 45 sacks last season, so I'm not quite sure I understand the premise of the question. But it seems to me the team added the No. 3 overall selection in the draft – a player who was considered the best edge rusher in the draft – and also added a strong-side end with pass-ability in free agency (Jared Odrick) as well as an Otto linebacker with some pass-rush skills (Dan Skuta). Given all of that … well, let's just say that considering that 45-sack total was sixth in the NFL last season I just don't think it's fair to imply that the Jaguars spent the offseason neglecting a deficient pass rush.
Bryan from Tampa, FL:
Should the Jaguars be concerned over their lack of pass rush so far? I know that Chris Clemons hasn't been on the field, but he isn't exactly the Leo he used to be. It could be a long year for our secondary if the Jags aren't getting consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback.
John: The lack of pass rush through two games is a concern, though how much of a concern remains to be seen. Remember, similar "concerns" were being voiced during last year's preseason and while Bill didn't think much of it, the pass rush was pretty good last season. Regarding Clemons, I'm not sure it's fair to say he's not the Leo he used to be. I don't know that he was ever "elite," necessarily, but he had eight sacks last season with a defense that was rarely in ideal pass-rushing situations. That's productive. Does this pass rush need to be better in the regular season than it has the first two preseason games? Absolutely, but it's certainly too early to assume that won't be the case.
Scott from Aurora, IL:
What do the Jags have to do to keep Jason Myers? I love Scobee, but Myers seems to have the talent to be a great kicker for a long time. What say you?
John: The Jaguars can keep Jason Myers by doing the same thing any team must do to keep any player – keep him on the 53-man roster. I sort of doubt the Jaguars will do this, because I think the trust factor with Scobee is very high. But I do think Myers is making them think about this more than perhaps they anticipated.
Tommy from Boca Raton:
Is Gus referring to Bowanko playing right or left tackle?
John: Both, but mostly right.
Aaron from Chantilly:
Okay this is way, way out in left field, but I wonder if Marcedes Lewis could be an effective pass rusher?
John: I don't doubt Marcedes Lewis could have been an effective pass rusher had that been his chosen area of expertise early in his career. He certainly has the size and athleticism for the job. But pass rushing, particularly in the NFL, is as much about mastering pass-rush moves and knowing how to use your hands to combat your opponent's pass-blocking techniques as it is athletic ability. So … no, at this stage of his career, Lewis almost certainly would not be an effective pass-rusher.
Bruce from Gotham, NY:
While the Jags have improved in areas [QB obviously being most important], I think things still look the same to some people because two areas still need improvement: pass rush and red zone. Are the three players who are out [Clemons, Marks and Thomas] so key in those areas? If so, what happens if they are out for extended periods or neutralized by the other team? If other players don't step up it will be the same long season in the most important stat - W's - don't you think? Thanks again, Mr. O.
John: Yes, the players who are out could make a huge difference in the red zone and pass rush, but I also don't think we've seen enough in two games to know for sure that those areas are going to be season-long weaknesses. And yes, I would say it's key for players other than Clemons, Marks and Thomas to step up if the Jaguars are going to push for a .500 record or perhaps better. Good teams have more than a few players who can make an impact, and the Jaguars certainly need to find a few more impact players to qualify as a good team.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Do you think, now that we know the present, not keeping Rashean Mathis was a mistake? This is a meaningless question, but I'm sure going to hate seeing on the other side. He was a Jags icon.
John: There's no such thing as a meaningless question; just meaningless senior writers. Sure, if the Jaguars had been contending for a Super Bowl with an all-in approach – i.e., loading up with veterans – keeping Mathis might have made sense. As it stood, this team spent the past few seasons trying to build a core of young players with the idea of letting that core grow in the coming few seasons. Within that framework and approach, I don't think keeping Mathis – who I liked and respected very much, by the way – made much sense.
Fred from Jacksonville:
I hate to be fooled by tomfoolery as much as the next fellow. But isn't tomfoolery part of the game? I mean, a double reverse, or the old Statue of Liberty play, or even a draw play – isn't there a strong component of tomfoolery there?
John: The question that raised this topic was about why the NFL makes defensive players or offensive linemen "report eligible" if they are going to line up as eligible players. My answer was if you didn't have that rule you would have teams trying all sort of tomfoolery with coaches trying to fool opponents before the snap. That's "pre-snap" tomfoolery as opposed to the old Statue of Liberty play, which is post-snap tomfoolery. Why so much hate for pre-snap tomfoolery? Well, upon reflection I suppose I'm not all that certain. Also upon reflection, I suppose I'm not anti-tomfoolery as much as I just don't see the NFL changing this rule.

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